Last month, the United States unveiled two new vaccines developed using a new scientific technique to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. The goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible. All this at a time when the nation is changing presidents and trying to save the rolling economy.

In other words: We are in the process of setting up a whole new kind of national programme, without the promise that it will work as planned.

The first weeks of the vaccine’s launch were strongly criticized by politicians, including President-elect Joe Biden, scientists and countless others who seemed to expect a well-orchestrated spectacle from manufacturing laboratories, transportation companies, subcontractors and hundreds of clinics and millions of beneficiaries.

Your unrealistic expectations make sense. After all, scientists have just pulled out a rabbit that produces an apparently high-quality vaccine every hundred years in record time, and so far there is little evidence of side effects. Having achieved the impossible, many assumed that a second attempt would also achieve its goal and that a flawless vaccine implementation program would magically appear.

Thoughts of desire. Instead, despite the negligence of the Trump administration, which extended its irresponsible position by refusing to develop any semblance of a coordinated federal vaccine, we have a mediocre program in our hands.

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Which brings us to the 20th. January and the new Biden administration full of plans and agendas. Although this is a guarantee for many, they may expect strong political divisions on many issues, as officials try to vaccinate at the speed of light.

First, Mr. Biden made it clear that he believes in active and thoughtful management, not vague Darwinian market forces to optimize government programs. There is already a Covid 19 response team led by experienced people who have the task of organizing the many annoying government tasks behind the scenes and making and executing decisions. These are the people at the table, on the phone, in meetings – people with memorable faces and no political axes to grind.

Here come the bureaucrats. A lot. They will make an ambitious but imperfect plan and become the easy food for the (revived) republican song of the small government.

Moreover, Biden et al. believe in science, in the process itself – funding scientists and avoiding them – that led to the great vaccine miracle of 2020. But don’t think it will help them win hearts and minds. Not everyone believes in the vaccine or even in the virus itself.

As the story of the Covida 19 vaccine unfolds, medical historians remember the 1955 polio vaccination campaign that led to the eradication of the disease in the United States decades later. It is important to remember that during the decades needed to produce the saline solution and then the Sabin vaccine, many children died or were paralysed.

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Despite its shortcomings, the polio immunization program was accepted by the majority of the population, perhaps because of the severity of the disease, which could cause permanent damage to children, and because of the increased confidence in science and government in the decade after World War II.

On the other hand, the public’s attitude towards Covid-19 and the vaccine is politically divided. Even the brutal fact that it has killed more than 1.8 million people worldwide, including 350,000 in the United States, has not changed some people’s minds. We continue to take basic public health measures inconsistently, as if the recommendations were an attack on free choice, a capitulation for a bunch of nagging scientists with their fake charts and graphs.

Finally, the poorly understood notion of collective immunity is likely to provoke a serious debate among citizens because it focuses on the well-being of society rather than that of the individual. The idea of herd immunity was developed a century ago by veterinary researchers interested in animal husbandry. Together with others, she made a statistical model to estimate the number of people (or animals) in a community that would need to be immunized (by a vaccine or a natural infection) to make it highly unlikely that a non-immune person would be infected.

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From another point of view, the principle of collective immunity (which I think is preferable to call Community immunity) is as follows: We want to vaccinate you to help you, of course, but even more important is to protect the man you have never met and with whom you may not agree on everything you have decided not to be vaccinated. If we all get together, life will be better for everyone!

This message of communitarianism contradicts much of today’s political discourse. And the e pluribus unum angle will probably get worse when we find out how many people refuse the vaccine. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, just over a quarter of the population was reluctant to be vaccinated at the beginning of December. This group consists of smallpox veterans, a few other Trump supporters who have decided to look down on the infection, others who are already infected and think it’s enough, and of course some who believe in the unfounded conspiracy theory that Bill Gates wants to put a microchip on their bodies.

However, they come in a negative light. If this group is large enough, it can hamper the immunity of the herd, which experts estimate at 70-85% of the population. This will speed up the debate on compulsory vaccination, which in turn will encourage those who have already decided not to be vaccinated, endanger the whole national campaign and exacerbate the huge national debate on the role of government in daily health and safety.

Personally, I doubt it will reach boiling point – if more than half the country has actually been vaccinated, and many more people have been vaccinated against natural infection for at least some time, we are likely to see good, if not excellent, control of the Covid 19 pandemic.

This would mean that instead of an unbridled pandemic, we could see a small and moderate outbreak every now and then, similar to the outbreaks we see almost every year with measles, pertussis and other vaccine-preventable infections. It is terrible, tragic and unnecessary – but not on the same scale as the current historical pandemic.

In fact, we will probably fight tooth and nail again next year for tax cuts, Middle East politics and reproductive rights. Which, I think, is a version of the good news.

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